Let’s pretend for a few minutes. Pretend that your church has actually gone through the evaluation process using the four functions. After discovering the weakest function, the congregation immediately begins to develop that area of church life. During the process of evaluating the church, a pastoral job review was also done, which resulted in no major tensions but did produce some suggestions for improving his/her ministry.
The processes described here are important but do take a lot of time and energy. When I was a pastor doing these kind of things, all of us directly involved collectively groaned when evaluation time rolled around every couple of years. We groaned not because we doubted the value of the process but because we knew that we would have another layer of work added to already busy schedules.
As we got into the process, someone was sure to ask, “Why are we doing this anyway?”–and the person asking the question may well have been me, the one who developed the process and encouraged the congregation to adopt the process. If you have been following the blog, you know that I offered an answer to this question in the October 6 blog–an answer that does make sense and which we found helped to keep us on track most of the time.
However, there is another part of the answer that we will look at today. You see, when all the work has been done, the church and pastor will have a good picture of their overall ministry. And no matter how good that ministry is, it is never perfect–there is always room for improvement. That improvement is part of our calling.
Our call as believers and as churches is to give to God our best. That is not just referring to our offering or our individual gifts. As individuals and as congregations, we are called to give to God our best. While we can never reach perfection in this life, we are called to continually work at trying to reach perfection.
In the end, trying to offer to God the best ministry possible is important in and of ourselves. Just as the sacrifices in the Old Testament had to be the best of the flocks and herds, so the ministry we offer to God needs to be our best. There will certainly be limits imposed by our circumstances–but we offer the best we can in our situation.
One pastor I taught years ago in Kenya came to our school speaking at least three languages but couldn’t read or write in any of them. But he offer to God what he had and I have to say that he was one of the best preachers I have heard–and I have heard a lot of preachers over the years. His lack of literacy skills prevented him from doing a lot of things in ministry–but he offered to God what he had and did his best.
This is what God requires of all of us–not perfection but the offering of our best. When it comes to congregations, that best probably requires that we take the time to look at what we are offering to God, discover the weaknesses and difficulties and work at fixing them as part of our service to God.
The effort we put into the evaluation processes should produce better ministry. It should produce a stronger, more joyful congregation. It will help the pastor and leadership understand their roles better. It may even result in actual numerical growth, although that particular result is not something that we can control.
But no matter what the results, the process helps us become more what we were meant to be. We seek to grow in faith as individuals and congregations and the required growth is only possible is we are willing to examine ourselves and our church, offering both the results and changes to God as part of our commitment to him.
The process of self-evaluation is important in and of itself–we cannot be perfect in this life but the journey towards perfection is an important part of our faith lives here.
As to the issue of why numerical growth is not a direct consequence of the ministry evaluation process, we will look at that tomorrow–there is a very important Biblical principal involved here that often gets overlooked or forgotten.
May the peace of God be with you.